India. Ladakh. Ladakh is a land full of surprises. It is a region where you can suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. Surrounded by two of the world’s highest mountain ranges, the Himalayas and Karakoram, Ladakh is characterised by snow-covered peaks and daunting passes offering scenic vistas of the rolling hills, barren landscape and colourful Buddhist prayer flags fluttering along the roadside. It’s the land of mystique and spirituality. Every twist and turn has a surprise in store, with ancient stupas, quaint cafes, golden barley fields, gushing streams, and beautiful Ladakhi homes offer perfect picture opportunities.
Festivals in Ladakh
There are plenty of reasons to visit Ladakh: the colourful festivals, devised according to the Tibetan Calendar, held on this mystical land to highlight Buddhism culture is one of them. Festivals in Ladakh are organised on various occasions such as birth, marriage, the commemoration of head Lamas who had founded the monasteries, harvesting, flowering, and Losar, or the New Year.
For the first-timer to Ladakh, it appears as a barren wasteland where you can only see brown mountains, white snow, and blue lakes. In reality, though, the true colours of Ladakh are revealed during the festivals of Ladakh which can leave one mesmerized. Locals in traditional Ladakhi colourful robes, musicians and dancers in brightly coloured dresses paint the region in the kaleidoscopic colours of the rainbow.
Festivals are the times to view, enjoy and experience the culture of Ladakh. Mask dances, folk songs by the monks in vibrant silk garments and feasting are some of the highlights at the various monasteries and their courtyards.
12 Annual festivals
There are more than 12 festivals held during the year and the main ones are Losar, Sindhu Darshan, Hemis Tsechu and the Ladakh Festival. The most important annual festival of Ladakh is held in September which is the much-awaited fixture on the cultural calendar.
The calm air of Ladakh fills up with vibrancy and a burst of colours. The entire region comes alive with splendor, celebration and music. The inauguration ceremony of the festival takes place in Leh with a procession of several cultural troupes from different parts of the region passing through the markets.
There are regular celebrations in various villages includes archery, polo and masked dances. Also folk dances by cultural troupes from the villages are part of the celebrations. Wild lion and yak dances with music presentations, craft exhibitions, yummy Ladakhi food and tasting intoxicating barley beer called Chang are the highlights of the festival.
There is an aura of mystery. You can even see many monks enjoying the tunes of flutes, cymbals, and trumpets and participating in the dance. The vibrancy and the bright colours leave the onlooker mesmerised.
Finally, the festival ends at the polo ground in Leh with the Archery and Polo competitions. The festival, a visual treat for everyone, provides a platform for various artists to showcase their uniqueness and promotes the lesser-known culture, tradition, and folk heritage of Ladakh in the world.